Bridging the Digital Divide

In today’s world, 92% of jobs require digital literacy skills. Unfortunately, in North Carolina, many lack internet access or cannot afford the required subscription or equipment. Many also lack digital literacy skills and are unable to benefit from services like telehealth, online educational courses or online job boards. Creating digital access is an essential first step in tackling digital barriers to support economic mobility and prosperity for all. Digital skills result in greater access to employment and higher wages, which leads to greater economic vitality for our region. In addition to helping individuals with employment options, closing the digital skill divide improves economic mobility, community prosperity, public safety and hazard resilience conditions for residents and businesses.

Centralina Partners with NCDIT and NC State University

The state prioritizes digital inclusion for all, as evident through its digital inclusion initiative, being led by NC Department of Information and Technology (NCDIT). The goal of this initiative is to ensure that all communities, especially disadvantaged populations, can connect to and use the internet. Recognizing that a regional approach is critical to closing the digital divide, Centralina partnered with NCDIT and the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University to improve broadband access and equity in our region through a program called the Building a New Digital Economy in North Carolina or BAND-NC.

Developing Digital Inclusion Plans

The BAND-NC initiative helps county leaders and staff develop and implement digital inclusion plans that include implementation strategies to reduce and eliminate barriers to broadband access and technology use. The goal of these plans is to help identify community assets and implement strategies to increase access to the internet and bolster participation in the digital economy. Centralina is currently working in partnership with the counties in our region to support development and implementation of customized digital inclusion plans that reflect local conditions and needs. The Centralina Regional Digital Inclusion Plan will contain a regional section that covers objectives and goals, current conditions and statewide initiatives, in addition to chapters for each county’s specific plan.

As part of this initiative, Centralina has launched a Regional Digital Inclusion webpage, which will house these plans and additional regional, local and statewide digital assets and resources. If you’re interested in learning more about digital inclusion, please take a moment to review the curated resources on our Regional Digital Inclusion webpage and stay tuned as we launch the Centralina Regional Digital Inclusion Plan this fall.